Marijuana Proponent Mizanskey Registers to Vote
Jeff Mizanskey, the Sedalia man sentenced to serve life in prison without possibility of probation or parole for minor marijuana offenses, has been released from parole and regained his right to vote.
Mizanskey paid a visit to the Pettis County Clerk's office Wednesday morning and registered to vote.
“Register up! Let's vote. Let's get the job done. It's time for the people say 'this is what we want to do and this is how we want to change the law' and then you get with some good lawyers .. and get those laws changed,” Mizanskey said about legalizing marijuana while talking with news media at the Pettis County Courthouse around 10:30 Wednesday morning.
Mizanskey, who was arrested in 1993 for possession of marijuana, and convicted to life in prison without parole one year later, was granted a commutation of his sentence by Governor Jay Nixon three years ago (2015). That commutation made him eligible for parole. The Missouri Board of Probation and Parole granted him parole very shortly thereafter. Mizanskey was released from parole last week, ending the possibility that he might be ordered to return to prison, and restoring his right to vote.
Under Missouri law, a defendant regains the right to vote automatically and immediately upon termination of probation or parole or the service of the entire sentence in a case. After that, all the defendant needs to do in order to vote in the next election is register with the County Clerk. After serving more than 21 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and nearly three years on parole, Mizanskey has done just that.
Mizanskey walked up to the second floor with his attorney by his side and filled out the paperwork. Mizanskey was assisted at Nick La Strada's office by election clerk Israel Baeza. Mizanskey was all smiles when he turned towards the cameras to show off his new voting card.
An honorably discharged veteran of the United States Air Force, Mizanskey has never been convicted of any crimes other than three relatively small marijuana offenses, according to a press release provided by the Missouri Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“I've been collecting signatures from the day I got out,” Mizanskey said when asked about his pro-marijuana activism. “It's not just my cause, it's our case. It's everybody in the state of Missouri. But I do feel like we're going to make some headway … it's time. In fact, its past time,” Mizanskey said.
“There's one other thing I'd love to see, and that's everyone in prison for marijuana get out. But hey, we're working on it,” he laughed.
According to his attorney Dan Viets, Columbia, Mizanskey never became bitter with his situation and he never committed any violations of his parole whatsoever. “He's been a perfect prisoner and a perfect parolee,” Viets said. “We thought we would have to go back to court and argue. But I'm very happy the board of parole and probation saw that Jeff was a perfect candidate to get released.”
Mizanskey sees no real difference between recreational and medical use of marijuana. “I'm definitely for the medical use,” he said. But you you can't call it recreational, he noted. “From what I hear, stress … is killing a lot of us. So if you think about it, you go to a bar, drink a beer, let go of your stress. How about if they come home and they be able to smoke a joint to relieve that stress?” he asked. “So is it really recreational, or is it medical?”